SEAVIEW — Something is missing in Seaview and Nansen Malin wants to put it back.
It is a year since an unfortunate traffic accident caused so much damage to the Seaview sign that it had to be removed.
Now Malin and members of the Seaview Historical Preservation Society (SHiPS) are launching a campaign to replace it.
“Seaview wants our arch and we will make it happen,” she said.
The effort is taking two directions:
• Raising $3,000 to pay for initial costs;
• Designing a new sign that is attractive and sturdy.
“We need the sign for our sense of identity,” said Malin. “It is our sense of place. It is more than a tourism icon — it is a symbol of our historic Seaview.”
The blue-teal sign hit by a vehicle last year had survived 16 years. After the accident, Pacific County crews had to remove it because the termite-ridden structure was a hazard.
It was not the first on the Seaview Beach Approach. No one seems to know exactly how many signs there have been in the last 140 years — perhaps as many as a dozen or more incarnations. Early photos show structures made of whale bones or driftwood.
As the campaign to raise money begins, Malin is asking residents to lend her photographs, including ones showing prior signs, so supporters can better catalogue Seaview’s history.
In 1873, Jonathan L. Stout received a land grant of 153 acres for what would become Seaview which he platted as an oceanfront resort community in 1881. His daughter and son-in-law, Inez and Charles Beaver, would later build the Shelburne Hotel.
The community began as a summer gathering place for Portland’s wealthy, who arrived via Columbia River steamship and completed their journey by horse and later by train. There are about 700 property owners in the community, which has its own sewer department and the SHiPS historical group, but no other unifying agencies other than its own zip code (98644).
Malin has owned her property just south of the Seaview approach since 2000. She has previously worked to rally neighbors on dune preservation issues. “It’s a way we can give back and make this a better place,” she said, explaining her activism. “It’s not just Seaview people who want the sign. I get calls from tourists and people who used to be residents — the Seaview sign means something to them.”
John Ramage’s civil engineering career took him around the world. In retirement, he moved from Portland to Seaview a couple of years ago.
A beach entrance landmark is considered vital in many communities around the world. Long Beach has had its distinctive Bolstad Avenue arch for years; Ocean Park had a sign made from spars from the wrecked USS Arrow years ago.
Concerns about a replacement sign in Seaview began almost immediately the other one fell. “Neighbors keep coming up to me and asking when we are going to do something,” Ramage said.
Malin is delighted that his expertise will aid the project. “He is the perfect fit, doing the technical stuff that I was so overwhelmed with,” she said. “He has great ideas.”
Ilwaco architect David Jensen has also been consulted.
Sign supporters have had initial meetings with Pacific County commissioners and staff from the Public Works Department. City Administrator Kathy Spoor commended the enthusiastic involvement of private citizens. “They are taking this as a grassroots effort to partner with us,” she said. “It’s a win-win.”
An earlier sign was 12 feet tall and 25 feet wide, but Ramage said a new one may have to be larger because of changed regulations.
Officials will need to check any new structure meets the latest standards for highway signs, Spoor said. “The county is committed to working with them to make this happen,” she added.
Ramage said a galvanized steel structure is the most likely format, with the goal of the lowest possible maintenance costs. Malin envisions an endowment to pay for maintenance.
The footings are also key and its placement near the right of way must be considered. Ideas on design elements are welcome, he and Malin said.
Both are confident their neighbors and others will rally to help design, fund, build and install a new sign by late spring 2018 in time for the summer tourism season. Total cost is estimated at $30,000.
“Seaview, historically, is great,” Malin beamed. “We show up. If we want it, we will make it happen.”
How to help
Membership in the nonprofit Seaview Historical Preservation Society is $15 for adults and $25 for a couple.
Checks may be mailed to SHiPS at P.O. Box 356, Seaview, WA 98644.
The Pickled Fish restaurant in Long Beach has named the Seaview sign as its “Cocktail for a Cause” for September; customers who order a cynar negroni cocktail will raise funds for the project.
‘It is more than a tourism icon. It is a symbol of our historic Seaview.’
— Nansen Malin
describing the Seaview sign